Welcome to my latest Capitol Update! As your state representative, one of my most important jobs is to keep you updated on issues at the state Capitol and in our community. My staff and I are always ready to answer any questions about state government and provide any help you need in contacting state departments. I also look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how to make state government work better for you.
You can also reach me at (517) 373-0159 or by email at email@example.com. You can also visit my website at sowerby.housedems.com to find up-to-date information and news on my work in Lansing. I hope you find my updates useful and informative.
In this issue:
● Upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour
● State of the State Address
● House Select Committee on Ethics
● Supplemental Budget
● Wolf Hunt Resolution
State Representative, 31st House District
Upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour
On Friday, Feb. 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., please join me for coffee and conversation via Zoom. We will be discussing state legislation, The governor’s 2023 budget proposal and other issues of the day. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, your ideas and any concerns that you may have. Please use the link below or type in the Meeting ID to join. Feel free to share with any residents who might be interested. I hope to see you there!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 946 6509 5059
State of the State Address
Two weeks ago, Gov. Whitmer gave the 2022 State of the State address. Here is a brief review for those of you who were unable to view the speech.
The governor’s message was simple: Michigan is strong because of our people. We’ve made great strides in recent years thanks to the hardworking and resilient people who live in our great state, and all of us are ready to continue our economic recovery as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan has successfully repaired or replaced 13,198 lane miles of roads and 903 bridges while supporting 82,000 good-paying jobs in the skilled trades. I was also glad to see Gov. Whitmer focused on the importance of maintaining and investing in the human infrastructure of our communities. Last year, our state was able to expand access to low-cost or free child care to one in three kids across the state.
Her address also highlighted her support for many of the proposals my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus and I have been advocating for, such as eliminating the “pension-tax” to save seniors their hard-earned money as well as the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to help lift working families from poverty. I look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer over the next year to help make these proposals a reality.
House Select Committee on Ethics
Last week, I was pleased to see my fellow House Democrats propose a committee on ethics to investigate potential unethical behavior that may not rise to the level of criminal wrongdoing. Actions can breach the public trust without being a crime, and the public deserves to know if their elected officials are engaging in such activities. This resolution to create the bipartisan House Select Committee on Ethics will publicly investigate allegations against current or former representatives.
Michigan is one of two states not requiring state officials to disclose personal finances and potential conflicts of interest. Republican leadership has blocked our transparency bills for years, and that needs to stop now. We need a new, equally balanced bipartisan Ethics Committee to examine credible allegations. We need to do more for all our constituents to ensure that Michigan becomes a more transparent state.
Supplemental Budget Passes House
The House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 5523, a supplemental appropriation bill that contains nearly $1.2 billion in federal funding dedicated to fighting COVID-19, some of which has been available since December 2020. This bill includes:
- $300 million for health care recruitment, retention and training.
- $150 million for pandemic school safety to expand testing in Michigan schools.
- $75 million for COVID-19 early treatment and testing sites.
- $70 million for adult foster care facilities, which would provide $700 per bed grants to eligible facilities.
- $29 million for nursing home infection control efforts.
My fellow House Democrats and I have been fighting tirelessly to bring these taxpayer dollars home to Michigan and put the funds to work in our communities. Although this relief funding is long overdue, I am proud that we delivered this critical funding to keep Michiganders safe. I look forward to this bill finally reaching Gov. Whitmer’s desk and being signed into law.
Wolf Hunt Resolutions Pass Legislature
This week, two resolutions passed through the Michigan Legislature that urge the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) to immediately institute a 2022 hunting season for wolves in Michigan. I rose in staunch opposition to these resolutions because they urge the NRC to rush a decision with an incomplete understanding of how a hunt will impact our state’s ecology, ignore the science we do have which suggests strong, stable wolf populations help our state’s wildlife and lack much needed input from our state’s tribal governments.
Hunts like the one proposed by these resolutions lead to random deaths that can disastrously ruin pack social structures and have been demonstrated to lead to an increase of poaching in other states like Wisconsin. Research has shown that wolves hunt weaker and sick prey, and therefore protect prey like deer from spreading illnesses like Chronic Wasting Disease. Wolf populations in Michigan have just started to stabilize and instituting a hunt risks upsetting that natural stability they’ve created. These resolutions are nothing short of reckless, and I will continue to urge the NRC not to institute a wolf hunt.